Bermuda’s appearance in the UAE marks a welcome return to the top table of Associate cricket for a team that had fallen a long way down the ranks since their famous appearance at the 2007 World Cup. Bermuda is at the global men’s T20 WC qualifier for the first time since 2013, having secured their spot by finishing second to Canada in the Americas Regional Final which they hosted in August.
Their success in the qualifier, where Bermuda eliminated the USA, came as a surprise to many outside the small North Atlantic island, given the disparity in size, experience and budget between the islanders and their ODI-status holding neighbours. However, no-one who witnessed that tournament could doubt that the Gombey Warriors, in their trademark pink kit, were very much worthy of their qualification.
Head Coach Herbie Bascome, appointed to the role in February, marshalled his team both on and off the field into a coherent unit who gave everything for each other and committed to the national side in a way that had been missing in recent years. Bascome stated when he took on the role that he wanted to instil more national pride in the players, and true to his word that commitment, pride and team spirit paid instant dividends with vital contributions coming not just from their star players in the qualifier, but from almost all of the squad at different times. The squad give the impression that they are more than the sum of their parts, and confidence is high among the unit that they can make a strong impression in the UAE.
Squad: Dion Stovell (c), Terryn Fray (vc), Rodney Trott, Kamau Leverock, Onias Bascome, Sinclair Smith (wk), Deunte Darrell, Allan Douglas, Janeiro Tucker, Okera Bascome (wk), Macai Simmons, Derrick Brangman, George O’Brien Jr, Delray Rawlins, Malachi Jones, Oronde Bascome, Charles Trott
Bermuda have named a 17-strong squad for the tournament, captained by talented all-rounder Dion Stovell who returns as skipper to the national side having missed the majority of the Americas qualifier after failing to recover in time from a concussion picked up in the domestic Cup Match classic.
Most of the successful qualification squad return, bolstered by some highly experienced additions. There is a surprise recall for 44-year-old Janeiro Tucker, a veteran of the 2007 World Cup team with 26 ODI caps to his name, who has come out of international retirement and will be on double-duty in Dubai, donning the pads in addition to his role as an assistant coach to Bascome.
Another squad news highlight is the addition of Oronde Bascome to the ranks – joining his two brothers Onais and Okera in the team coached by their Dad, making it a real family affair! Oronde already has a T20I cap having played against Canada in 2008, and will look to continue his family’s strong showings of late – both Onais and Okera shone in the Americas qualifier, making the EC team of the tournament.
Ones to watch
Bermuda’s star man, and key player, is undoubtedly 21-year-old Sussex allrounder Delray Rawlins, whose performances for his county side in England have caught the eye of many a commentator. Rawlins is a regular in the Sharks’ T20 Blast side that reached Finals Day in 2018 and the quarterfinals this year and has made a name for himself as a six-hitting machine. He has also broken into the Sussex County Championship side in 2019, scoring a maiden first-class century in the process.
He turned in consistently strong performances in the Americas Regional qualifier, having negotiated with Sussex for his release to play for his home country in the event despite it being held in the middle of the English season, and was Bermuda’s top scorer in the tournament with 130 runs from five games, as well as picking up four wickets with his accurate slow left-arm spin and notching seven catches. Rawlins is a match-winner, proven at the highest level in England, and if he fires in the UAE could be a real handful for any opposition he faces.
As well as the Bascome brothers and Stovell as mentioned above, another man to watch is 24 year-old fast bowing allrounder Kamau Leverock. A former MCC Young Cricketer with First Class experience in England with Cardiff MCC University, Leverock is now playing for Nottinghamshire in the English Second XI competition. The nephew of another star of Bermuda’s 2007 World Cup campaign – his uncle Dwayne (aka Sluggo) needs no introduction here – Kamau brings high energy to the field as well as explosive hitting and accurate bowling.
Despite the very strong showing against the USA in August, the global tournament no doubt represents a step-up in quality opposition for the Gombey Warriors. Bermuda are the lowest ranked side (at 30) in Group A, and will be facing Associate heavyweights Scotland and the Netherlands in their final two (televised) games of the group stage.
However, with their experienced and settled line-up, confidence high, and with the star power of Rawlins, they will fancy their chances of causing an upset or two against other group members Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Kenya and Singapore. On that basis, a top four finish in the group and a shot at qualification for the big dance in Australia next year cannot be ruled out.